Food Safety attorney William Marler is calling for enforcement of a federal law that allows criminal sanctions to be imposed against food manufacturers that can prevent harmful food products from being distributed, but do not do so. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) is one of the federal government’s primary enforcement tools to prevent the distribution of contaminated or ‘adulterated’ food.
According to Section III of the FD&C Act, a food manufacturer is guilty of a felony if the manufacturer knowingly adulterates a food product with the intent to defraud its customers. A food manufacturer commits a misdemeanor if the manufacturer is aware that a product is contaminated or ‘adulterated,’ and has the power to stop the product from being distributed, but does not do so. The actions of Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) executives, who knowingly shipped Salmonella-tainted peanut products in 2008, qualify for prosecution under this federal statute, says Marler, as does the management of another company at the center of a current and rapidly expanding recall.
“In light of revelations that managers at Basic Food Flavors knew in mid-January that their plant was contaminated with Salmonella but continued to make Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP) and sell it to foodmakers around the country, it is past time to prosecute companies and individuals who knowingly sell contaminated food,” said Marler.
“As with the Salmonella outbreak caused by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) that sickened over 700 and killed nine, Basic Food Flavors knew it was shipping contaminated food destined for human consumption,” continued Marler. “It is time for executives of PCA and Basic Food Flavors to face the full force of criminal law.”